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Winter weather warning for businesses

Businesses should have a policy setting out how they will deal with bad weather which may stop staff making it to work, an expert has warned.

With many parts of the UK facing severe weather warnings, it is likely that staff at some businesses will struggle to make it to work at some point during the winter.

Kimberley Barrett-St. Vall, solicitor in the Employment team at Lancashire law firm Napthens, warns that each year adverse weather conditions causes issues for employees who look to manage absenteeism caused by storms or snow.

Kimberley advises that is it good practice for employers to have in place an Adverse Weather and Travel Disruption Policy setting out what should happen if employees cannot make it into work because of extreme weather, public transport strikes or similar reasons.

This will set out key issues like whether or not employers must pay staff who cannot get to work.

Kimberley said: “This is an important issue and one which we are asked about regularly. The answer depends on a combination of rights – the right not to suffer unlawful deduction from wages, and the employee’s contractual rights.

“Businesses should plan ahead, implementing a policy setting out how it would deal with such disruptions and ensuring that any abuse or breach of policy is dealt with according to a disciplinary procedure. This policy should be publicised internally so everyone is aware of it.

“Meanwhile, employees should be encouraged to keep the business updated of their current situation, and the business should be flexible, offering working from home or an alternate workplace if practical. Closure of the business should be considered if it cannot be run safely.

“Staff who cannot organise alternative childcare would be entitled to take the day off unpaid, although some businesses choose to exercise discretion and continue to pay a salary.

“Any businesses unsure of their rights should contact their legal advisor for more information.”